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System behavior: work/activities

The states of the system change over time, and considering the parts and entire material objects allows us to talk about changes---that is, to discuss changes/actions/processes/behaviors/procedures/activities simply as sets of interacting systems/"system realizations"/things-in-the-physical-world as parts of the whole change/process. A process/behavior is usually referred to by a verb or a gerund noun. There are many nuances here, which we will discuss in the methodology course, where we will be concerned with the description of working methods, that is, the description of the behavior of system creators (description of work according to certain methods) in complex chains of creating and developing one system by other systems. For example, the creation and development of an AI agent system by a team of engineers from the manufacturing company, and this team of engineers is created by some team of managers for the development of this company. During operation, the AI agent created by the engineers behaves in a certain way. In the course of its operation (that is, in the process of creating the AI agent), the team of engineers behaves in a certain way. In the course of their operation (that is, in the process of creating the team of engineers), the team of managers for the development of the company behaves in a certain way. And this is clearly not the end of the chain, because someone also created the team of managers, and it is also a system-creator. The methods of creating and developing systems are discussed in the methodology, the details of creating/behaving and developing/behaving are explored in the methodology course.

Here we will also consider the way we can think about the behavior of a system. It's easy to think about a hammer, easy to visualize it, easy to describe it. But how to describe the behavior of a hammer?

A process/behavior is always changes of some states of systems (events taking place), and there are many types of changes.

The most significant distinguishable types of behavior for us are:

  • services as opposed to functions (for any systems). This is the difference in the view of behavior from inside the system towards the supra system (service) and the view of behavior from the supra system towards the system (function). We will further examine this in detail in the current "Systems Thinking" course.
  • works as opposed to methods of work of system creators. This is the distinction between the behavior of system creators as affordances/modular objects (resources that could perform the work) and system creators as functional roles that have some method of work. This will be thoroughly examined in the "Methodology" course.

The most common type of change related to a particular system will be called behavior of that system in relation to the changing systems. Behavior is the interaction of the system with its environment, that is, "external behavior." We do not consider here how the subsystems, which also behave in some way, interact to jointly give the external behavior of the system they belong to. The external behavior of electronic clocks is showing the time; inside, a battery, some microchips, and a display protected by the clock casing from external influences are working to do this.

Of course, the environment also behaves (changes). For example, an agent who looks at the clock changes their behavior. Moreover, an agent (for example, a person) changes their behavior even to simply look at the clock (observation is an active action, it needs to be planned, then executed, at least turning your head in a way that your eyes see the clock). The system's behavior can be a response to external causes and not "initiated by the system itself." For example, the clock may show the time after a button is pressed—the clock reacts to external actions.

Certainly, there are many terms to describe changes in language, and there are many nuances of different behaviors. For example, "if nothing is happening, is it formally a change/behavior, or not? Isn't a space also a symbol?"

Sometimes all terms referring to behavior (verbs, gerund nouns) are considered synonymous, sometimes their meanings differ, and some specialization or even classification is introduced.

In this subsection of the course, we will not introduce different types of changes/behaviors/processes. We will leave the distinctions between services and functions of systems, as well as services and "methods of work"/activities/"types of work" of system creators, for further consideration. We will only note that the word "process" is used both as a general term for "all types of changes in systems" (in physics) and as a synonym for methods (in process management). In terms of their use in management, "processes"/"methods of work"/behavior are different from "work"/behavior; these are different classes of behavior.

Sometimes an attempt is made to emphasize this difference between processes/methods and work by adding the epithet "work" to the process. Then, a "work process" means a method of work, while work is just work, not a "work process," a different type. More details, as we have already mentioned, will be in the "Methodology" course. Pay attention to the word "process": it can mean different things, like any other words that people use to describe not only behavior but anything else. Clarify what is meant, ground it!

The "changes"/methods/behavior (or more correctly here, "changes in the state of some objects") are difficult for people and AI agents to imagine in detail to discuss. For example, it is easy to imagine a nail, a microscope, a hammer, and discuss the nail in detail. But how to depict the "hammering::method of nail::object changing its state during hammering"? Some kind of GIF/mini-movie appears in the mind, where a carpenter hammers a nail. It seems like "hammering a nail" is what it means. But how to discuss it in detail, how to explain it to others, how to introduce types for behaviors/processes/changes?

This is where 4D extensionalism helps, that is, the concept of the existence of things occupying a place/form/extent in 4D space-time. The four-dimensional approach helps reduce the number of relationships by making many relationships "part-whole relationships", and then changes/processes (states changing of some object) simply become temporal/time parts.

"Hammering a nail" can easily be imagined simply as listing physical objects/systems participating/interacting/changing their characteristics over a period of time that corresponds to this hammering—i.e., "hammering a nail involves the participation of the nail, hammer, board, and carpenter." Let's describe the types: "hammering a nail"::process/change/behavior involves::"referring to a set of" "participation"::relationship "of the nail"::system, "of the hammer"::system, "of the board"::system, "of the carpenter"::system.

The participation relationship in changes/actions/processes/procedures/activities is simply a specialization of the composition relationship (composition, part_of/whole_to - depending on the reading direction, "consists of"/"breaks down into" - also depending on the reading direction).

It is very difficult to discern the "hammering a nail process" in life as processes/changes as objects are invisible "in one frame." To represent changes, you need to imagine a "film"/GIF, some complex pattern/rhythm unfolding in time—searching for repeats, similarities over time. If you shift to temporal parts, it is very easy to detect the mutually changing nail, hammer, board, carpenter. It becomes slightly more challenging to detect them if a stone or a microscope plays the role of the hammer, a wall plays the role of the board, you play the role of the carpenter (and forget to include yourself in the process), and only the nail remains a nail—all these processes of "hammering a nail" undoubtedly have similarity, but one must understand clearly how to discuss it. So discuss it: "processes" are discussed by listing physical objects/systems that interact/change during their interaction. This turning to a list of physical objects instead of the actual behavior as a specific object, which can't be reduced to objects, remains a reliable way to find work, actions, methods/practices/activities/work, processes, functions, services, and other behaviors in the physical world.

Look in the world for actions not denoted by verbs and gerund nouns; look for objects denoted by nouns in the physical world (systems) that behave in interaction, manifest their (external) behavior in the world.